Monthly Archives: May 2010

  • We Will Be Closed Monday, May 31 in Observance of Memorial Day

    Season of Remembrance Begins Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem. April 30, 2007, The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are graced by U.S. flags on Memorial Day. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

    Season

    As Memorial Day approaches, we here at Lightning Labels would like to express our appreciation for all the men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces, as well as our gratitude for the sacrifices their families have made. Thank you! In observance of Memorial Day, we will be closed for business on Monday, May 31. Our office will reopen at 8:30 am on Tuesday, June 1.

  • More Wineries Adopting QR Codes

    Last year I wrote about the Portuguese wineries that have adopted QR codes on their wine labels. Recently, I have noticed more wineries adopting this cool new technology.

    A quick refresher on QR codes for the uninitiated. QR codes are a very useful tool for pointing people to more information about your product. This is how it works. You take a photo of the QR code with your phone with a bar code reader and you are automatically taken to the web site that is embedded in the code. This only works with smartphones such as the iPhone, BlackBerry or Droid phones, but these are the most popular phones these days, so a huge number of people now have this capability.

    In the wine business this is particularly useful as people can be browsing a liquor store and read reviews about the wine. This is how the Portuguese winery, Cortes de Cima, has been using QR codes on their wine labels. Their QR code takes people to their Adegga page, a web site where people can read independent reviews and ratings of their wine.

    In this recent article in The Drinks Business they talk about another Portuguese winery, Tagus Creek, who are now using QR codes on their wine labels. They are using the QR codes to point consumers to videos of wine tastings on their web site. The article also mentions a New Zealand wine called Insight that has just started using QR codes.

    QR codes help build a bridge from the offline to the online world. Wouldn't you like to send every prospect who is considering purchasing your product to a special page on your web site where you can provide them with more information. QR codes allow you to do just that and forward thinking companies are starting to see their benefits.

    I fully expect that by the end of this decade most products will have a QR code on their label. And like many innovations in label printing, the wine industry is leading the way. So next time you are at the liquor store take a close look at the labels. I expect you will see more and more QR codes on wine labels in the near future.

  • Classic Work of Literature Influences Beer Packaging

    Beer Packaging Design Influenced by Classic Novel Moby Dick Beer Packaging Design Captain Ahab Influenced by Classic Novel No, my headline is not backwards. It is no secret that alcohol consumption has influenced the work of fiction writers since man put pen to paper. And now, it seems, it is also working the other way around. Literature has inspired at least one graphic designer to create packaging that sells beer. American student Andrew Herwig's design for the fictional "Captain Ahab Lager" was recently featured on the blog Lovely Package. The beer labels and other packaging was inspired by the villanous character in Herman Melville's classic tale Moby Dick. Perhaps if Captain Ahab Lager had been around while I was an English Lit/Journalism major in college, I would have been more excited when Moby Dick showed up on my reading list. Or I might have at least have been inspired to slog my way through the entire novel vs. skimming it with the aid of Cliff Notes.

  • Proctor & Gamble Launches Sustainability Scorecard

    If you sell a retail product, whatever it is, you should be paying attention to Proctor & Gamble. They are the largest consumer products company on earth and they have the power to change the rules of the game.

    Which brings me to the announcement by P&G last week of their Environmental Sustainability Scorecard. Unlike the Wal-Mart initiative that uses the "stick" approach by potentially punishing wayward suppliers, P&G have opted for the "carrot" approach that measures and rewards improvement over time. They are not as concerned as to where you are now regarding sustainability but rather what changes are you making in order to improve.

    What I find interesting about the scorecard is that P&G are looking for innovative ideas from their supplier base. They want their suppliers to not only measure their carbon footprint but they also want them to share how they are doing this. Any interesting ideas that are adopted by P&G will be rewarded. With their thousands of suppliers P&G will have access to a huge number of sustainability ideas, all coming to them for free. That in itself is a smart move.

    So what does this mean for small businesses who will likely never be a Proctor & Gamble? We all know that sustainable business practices are only going to become more important. Definitely within ten years and maybe within five,  every small business will need to know their environmental footprint. Movements like this by P&G will become standard and customers will begin to demand it.

    My advice is to play close attention to the P&G scorecard. I know we will be here at Lightning Labels. Even though we may never supply Proctor & Gamble, we want to become better environmental stewards. Initiatives like this one will help shine the light on sustainable business practices.

    Related articles

    How P&G's sustainability scorecard affects you - The Converting Curmudgeon

    P&G Launches Supplier Sustainability Scorecard - Environmental Leader

    The official press release from P&G

  • Product Labels are More Important than TV

    TV Advertising in the 1960'sI am a big fan of the hit TV series Mad Men. What intrigues me most about the show is the window it provides into the advertising world of Madison Avenue in the 1960's. Then it was relatively easy to reach the masses with an advertising message. A print campaign (in newspapers and magazines) combined with some TV ads would ensure your product could be introduced to most Americans. Every day, we are getting further removed from that world. Last week, Richard Shear on his Package Unseen blog shared the dramatic impact this shift has had. Citing a new Nielson/Bases study that was reported in Ad Age, Shear discusses the awareness shift from TV to the retail store for new product information. In a survey conducted across six major industrialized countries (including the U.S.) the retail store beat TV as an awareness driver for new products by a 50% to 36% margin. What does this all mean? It means that your product packaging is actually becoming more important. I believe this trend will continue upwards. We have such a fractured media environment these days, with people spending less time watching TV, reading newspapers and magazines and listening to the radio, that it is difficult to get the message out about a new product. Consequently, consumers are spending more time in the retail store reading labels and learning about the products. So now, more than ever, you need high impact packaging. Your product label is likely the single most important advertising message you will ever create. If you are trying to place your product in retail stores and you are still printing your product labels on your own cheap inkjet printer it is time for a rethink. With digital label printing, high quality product labels are within the reach of even very small companies. The advertising executives on Mad Men would simply not recognize the media world of today. But they would appreciate the importance of product packaging. It was important in the 1960's and it is even more important today. Don't sell your product short. Make high quality product labels and packaging a priority. Your future business success may depend on it.

  • What Do You Think of Our Newsletter, The Lightning Flash?

    Lightning Flash Newsletter - Winter 2010 Screenshot

    We Need Your Feedback

    Do you read our newsletter, The Lightning Flash? If so, do you subscribe via email and/or snail mail, or just read it online? How could the newsletter be improved? Do you think the newsletter should be printed or only published via email and the website? What do you love about The Lightning Flash? What could you do without? We want to know what you think. After all, we publish this newsletter for you. Thanks in advance for your feedback. We really appreciate it!

  • John Elway, Nude Vodka and Variable Data Label Printing

    John Elway Nude VockaEven though I was a big fan of John Elway (the former Denver Broncos quarterback) during his playing days I never thought he would make an appearance on the Lightning Labels blog. I was wrong. Since retiring from football after the 1999 Superbowl Elway has pursued a variety of business interests. Last year, this included an investment in Nude Vodka, a new ultra-premium sipping vodka. To celebrate this investment, the people at Nude Vodka organized an "Evening with Elway" contest for their Colorado customers. The way the contest worked is that every bottle of Nude Vodka sold in Colorado had a unique four digit number on the neck label. The owners of these bottles then had to register their information and bottle number of the Nude Vodka web site. Last week seven winning numbers were selected and the lucky winners will get to spend an evening drinking vodka with John Elway. What I like about this contest is that it is a very simple and inexpensive way to add value to a product with variable data label printing. All Nude Vodka did was print some neck labels with the variable data numbers and setup a page on their web site to collect information. Total cost for all this would likely have been just a few hundred dollars I expect. Best of all they now have a database of their customers in Colorado that they can market to in the future. Now, you might not be able to entice the services of a celebrity to promote your product but you can still use the same principles in your own marketing promotion. Everyone loves a giveaway, so put your thinking cap on and create a fun promotion. It can be a free product giveaway, cash, or a sought after item. I have noticed the iPad is a popular giveaway these days. At my old company I gave away a trip for two people to Australia (free airfare and accommodation) and that proved very popular. The simplest way to manage a promotion is the way the Nude Vodka people did it. Add some variable numbers to your product labels, add a sign-up page on your web site and you're done. Just be sure to market your promotion well so you get some good customer involvement. And of course, we will be happy to print your variable data labels for you.

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Material Descriptions

Materials

BIOSTONE

One of our eco-friendly options that is actually made of stone—no trees are used. This material should not laminated.

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

CAST GLOSS

This is another material specially designed for the wine industry. It is paper-based with a high-gloss white finish. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CHROME (SILVER) BOPP

This material has the same water and oil-resistant properties as our White BOPP and Clear BOPP, but has the "mirror-like" look of shiny chrome.

CLASSIC CREST

Best suited for wine labels, this is a white paper stock with a dull matte finish. It is not suitable for lamination and is therefore not waterproof. Same adhesive and liner as Estate #9.

CLEAR BOPP

This is the clear version of the Polypropylene (BOPP) material. It has the same waterproof qualities as the White BOPP. It provides more of a "no label" look and is also suitable for window stickers (where reverse printing of the image allows the label to be applied to the inside of a glass window and be viewed from the outside).

ESTATE #9

This is a great option for wine labels, gourmet foods or applications where a textured finish is desired. Being a paper stock, it's not as water-resistant or durable as BOPP, but its light cream color and textured feel add a touch of the "unusual" to the right product. It features a special adhesive (removable in 100+ degree hot water) and a stronger liner particularly suited to machine application. Not suitable for lamination.

GOLD POLYESTER (METALIZED)

This material will make your labels shine! Suitable for most labeling applications, it has a strong adhesive backing and must be laminated. Choose glossy laminate to make your label designs pop, or matte for a unique, elegant look.

KRAFT (RECYCLED)

This is a recycled 100% post consumer waste material. It is a 55# paper material that is a wonderful option if an “earthy” appearance is desired. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water. It is not suitable for lamination; therefore, it is not water or oil resistant.

REMOVABLE WHITE BOPP

This material is the same as our standard BOPP, but has a special, "less aggressive" adhesive designed to allow the label to be removed or re-positioned after application. Depending on the surface it will be applied to, customer testing is strongly recommended. We can provide samples for this purpose.

SATIN CLOTH

Quite the unique material! Yes, it is woven satin acetate cloth. Think wine or spirit labels! This material will make your product packaging POP. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

SQUEEZABLE

A white, 3mil film that is better suited for squeezable applications. This material has proven to work well in a variety of applications, so you can be confident it will perform well for you.

VELLUM (RECYCLED)

A great “green” choice, this 60# vellum is 100% recycled with 100% post consumer waste material. Cannot be laminated. Is neither water nor oil-resistant. The stronger liner is well suited for machine application. Depending upon face, substrate, water temperature and dwell time, label may be removed in hot water.

WHITE BOPP

This is our most commonly used material and is suitable for most applications. It's a polypropylene material with a permanent adhesive. It is impervious to water and oils, and is particularly suitable for bath and body products, as well as food containers.

WHITE EARTHFIRST PLA

A more environmentally friendly alternative to White BOPP. The PLA stands for Polylactic Acid (a biopolymer made from corn rather than petrochemicals). Similar look and feel to BOPP and suitable for most applications, but should not be used directly on candle containers.

WHITE FLEXIBLE VINYL

This is our most substantial material. The vinyl is thicker than BOPP, and is most suitable for outdoor applications where greater strength and durability are needed, or where lengthy exposure to the elements is an issue.

WINDOW DECAL (CLEAR/ULTRA-REMOVABLE)

We offer this window decal option as an alternative to static cling. The face stock is clear with excellent clarity. The adhesive is an ultra-removable featuring excellent weatherability and UV resistance. It removes cleanly from a wide variety of substrates without staining or ghosting. Why worry about static clings staying on when you can have removable adhesive there to hold it in place?

Artwork Specifications

Laminates

High Gloss

High gloss is our most popular laminate. It is the least expensive option and provides protection for the label and a high gloss shiny finish.

Matte

The Matte Laminate provides your label with a dull, non-glossy finish. Some customers consider this achieves a more "natural" look.

Thermal Transfer

This is a gloss laminate that is designed to work with most over-printing thermal transfer printers. We do recommend you get samples first to test through your own printer before placing an order with this laminate.

UV Outdoor Gloss

As the name implies this is best used for labels that will be used outdoors. It has a high gloss finish with excellent UV resistance. It is best paired with our vinyl material for the most durable outdoor label.